N° 42 — February 23, 2021
During Black History Month, we're taking time to honor, celebrate, and reflect on the Black horticulturalists, botanists, and agriculturalists who shaped our world.

Please enjoy our regular updates and insights from FONA, the U.S. National Arboretum, and our award-winning Washington Youth Garden.
Black Legacies: Roland M. Jefferson
Roland M. Jefferson was the first Black botanist and plant explorer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His horticultural legacy lives on in cherry trees across America, particularly in those found at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.

A DC native, Jefferson received his botany degree from Howard University in 1950 after serving in WWII. Jefferson joined the team of scientists at the National Arboretum in 1956. He extensively studied American crabapple varietals for over a decade before turning his attention to cherry trees.
Roland M. Jefferson planting a cherry tree in the National Arboretum's Paul Russell Cherry Collection in 1967. Photo from: U.S. National Arboretum
Jefferson (left) with an assistant in the Arboretum's cherry fields. Photo from: U.S. National Arboretum
Starting in 1973, Jefferson dedicated the rest of his career to studying and preserving flowering cherry tree varietals. He led expeditions around the world to study cherry trees, collect their seeds, and bring cuttings back to the United States. Jefferson even created a dogwood seed exchange program — America received over half a million cherry tree seeds that were collected by Japanese school children, and in turn Japan received American dogwood seeds.

Jefferson also worked with National Park Service to repropagate and save the Tidal Basin cherry trees originally gifted by Japan in 1912. Jefferson's dedication to horticulture not only preserved DC's treasured trees, but also vastly expanded our understanding of flowering cherry and crabapple trees.

From the Lab: Tsuga 'Traveler'
The National Arboretum was officially awarded a patent for Tsuga 'Traveler', their new variety of hemlock! This hybrid is resistant to hemlock wooly adelgid, an invasive insect species that has devastated North American hemlock populations. 'Traveler' is the result of decades of Arboretum tree breeding research led by horticulturalist Sue Bentz.

Since 'Traveler' is more difficult to propagate and produce than other Arboretum introductions, this patent ensures the new hemlock hybrid reaches the American public as quickly as possible.

Graphic from: U.S. National Arboretum
Students from Garden Science partner schools created wonderful varieties of bread during a Virtual Bake Night last week.
"Greetings from the Garden Science Team! As we move closer to the spring season, we are preparing our garden planting plans for our schools. We are also planning our spring garden work days, where we will begin to weed and prep raised beds for our first round of seeds and seedlings..."

Dwayne Thomas, one of Washington Youth Garden's FoodCorps Service Members, shares what the Garden Science program has been up to this winter.

Washington Youth Garden is presenting at Rooting DC again this year — this time virtually! Rooting DC is a free urban gardening forum that brings together food and gardening organizations from across DC to host workshops for the community.

Join us Friday, Feb. 26th at 6:30 PM for WYG's Wiggly Worm Workshop. During this family-friendly event, we'll go on a worm safari, draw our own worm bin, and adults will learn the basics of how to build their own worm bin to compost at home or school.

Going Local
Black-owned garden businesses and food justice organizations have done great work in our local community during the pandemic and beyond.

Our Washington Youth Garden team compiled this list of 13 local Black-owned farms, gardens, and food justice organizations working in the DMV. You can also see the full guide on Instagram.
Farms & Gardens
Dreaming Out Loud: 2-acre farm and food hub in Ward 7. Hosts a Black Farm CSA with flexible pricing.

Three Part Harmony Farm: 2-acre farm in Northeast DC and local CSA.

Deep Roots Farm: Organic farm in MD, can be found at H Street and Dupont farmers markets.

Sylvanaqua Farms: Delivers high-quality local eggs and meat door-to-door in the DMV.

THEARC Farm: The largest urban farm east of the Anacostia River. Hosts a women and farmers of color CSA.

Soilful City: Urban garden in Ward 8 that seeks to heal the sacred relationship between communities of African descent and mother earth.

Purple Mountain Organics: Locally-produced grains, can be found at the Dupont and Takoma Park farmers markets.
Food Justice Organizations
Kyanite Kitchen: Distributes hot meals, produce, non-perishables, and toiletries to Wards 7 and 8.

Err'body Eats: Combats food insecurity via ready-to-eat meals, community education, and employment opportunities.

The Green Scheme: Bridges communities and resources to empower youth to live healthy and sustainable lives.

Fuel the People: Fuels the community with meals from Black and POC restaurants and chefs.

Hustlaz 2 Harvesters: Affects change through urban farming, nutrition, building trade, and employment initiatives.

DC Urban Greens: Establishes a distribution system of healthy foods to Wards 7 and 8.
Forest Bathing
Spend this Saturday morning bathed in the ambience of the National Arboretum. Watch fog roll across hills, listen to morning mist fall on magnolia leaves, and smell the first hint of late winter's apricot and pear blossoms on the wind.

Join us Saturday, February 27th from 9 - 11 AM for a forest bathing experience.

The resident male and visiting female bald eagles spent the past week together at the Arboretum nest. Photo from: American Eagle Foundation
Eagle Updates
For those following the nest drama, the plot thickens for which female bald eagle will reside in the nest this year.

The new female eagle, known as V5 since she's the 5th adult to visit the nest this year, has made herself at home. Late last week, V5 and the resident male eagle both defended the nest from an attacking visitor.

The female eagle who occupied the nest in previous years has not been spotted either at the nest or around the Arboretum in over a week. It seems the Arboretum will have a new power couple in the canopy this spring.

The Arboretum is open every day from 8 AM - 5 PM except December 25th. Some buildings and collections remain closed to ensure visitor and staff safety.